I was seduced into these puzzles a few months ago, and now I divide my meagre residual leisure time between them and crosswords, which makes me an expert. I’m sure that no-one who reads this blog is unfamiliar with Sudoku, so I won’t patronise you by spelling out the basic concept or the fundamental techniques. I can, however, share with you a few tips I’ve registered during my (ahem) several hours’ in-depth experience:
- When all the obvious and less obvious connections have been detected, stare at it for at least twenty-five minutes. Then do the quick crossword. Then stare some more. Then go and get a drink.
- The drink will have the immediate effect of revealing the bleedingly obvious link your eyes had meticulously swerved around throughout the pre-drink epoch. Also the fact that you had written ‘4’ twice in the same nine-by-nine box.
- I always print it out from the Garduain website, for two reasons: a) there’s just about room on an A4 for the demented aides memoires I need as a memory surrogate; and b) erasers don’t work more than twice on newsprint. (Actually, my confidence levels have risen to the point where I can start with ink rather than pencil, safe in the knowledge that I can always screw it up, screw it up, and print it again. It’s surprising how differently take 2 can turn out.)
- When the impossible has been eliminated, whatever remains must be, er, equally impossible. Guesswork should not be resorted to – but occasionally pays off. Only today, I had to downgrade a ‘hard’ Guranaid Sudoku from ‘impossible’ back to merely ‘hard’ as a result of an inspired guess, which turned out to be wrong but unveiled the (rather subtle) right approach.
- As an alternative to breaking down into uncontrollable metaphorical sobs, if it’s at all feasible, ask Z. This never fails.